SETP Vol. 1 Chapter 10
Chapter 10 – Battle
“What does he plan to do with our meager numbers? Was our prince’s heart moved by princess Mephia or something?”
“Who can say. Everyone says trash prince this trash prince that, but I bet that not even His Majesty would have expected him to be this trashy. To face over ten thousand enemies with just a few thousand is something only fools would do. Ms. Feli couldn’t stop him, or maybe she gave up on him…in any case, we better be ready for the worst.”
The roughly 3000-strong Diestburg forces started moving towards the west gate. Leading them was none other than I, “Trash Prince” Fay Hanse Diestburg. The troops’ morale was low, and maybe because they had already reached their position, voices of dissatisfaction could be heard here and there.
“Even if we have to die here, it would be nice if it could serve to open His Highness’ eyes. If that’s what Ms. Feli is thinking, it might explain why our strategy is this reckless.”
“….in that case, if Ms. Feli accepted the plan of that idiot prince, she will…?”
“She’ll die too, most likely. They sure gave her a sad role…”
The soldiers did not care to keep their dissatisfied voices quiet, but no one stopped them. That’s how reckless the plan was.
I didn’t care about every little thing like that though. Normally, the soundest strategy would be to use our knowledge of the lay of the land to gradually whittle down the enemy troops. However, we might run out of time. If there wasn’t a “Hero” in the enemy ranks…
A “Hero”, someone who was said to be able to take on tens of thousands of soldiers alone. Even if I rushed to their position, I might not make it in time. More than anything, I had to make sure my promise with Logsaria Bornest was kept.
In that case…
The only option available is for me to go to the frontline.
“I’ll go by myself. You all wait here.”
Who did the order surprise most? Even the soldiers who freely proclaimed their concerns until a moment ago turned silent.
“That is my only order.”
Not that it mattered, anyway. I knew what I had to do. Thus I had no intention of being swayed by the feelings or opinions of others.
“Please wait, Your Highness.”
One knight attempted to stop me.
“This battle belongs to the kingdom of Afillis. Even if Your Highness falls, the battle will not end. On the contrary, it would simply make the Afillis kingdom and the Diestburg kingdom, forced to exact revenge, even more at a disadvantage. Or might you be planning to switch sides and save only yourself?”
I chuckled and turned back in the direction I was going to.
I knew there would be no point in indulging the knight’s question, so I didn’t waste time replying.
“What you all should do is simply believe what your eyes will see. Moreover, as long as you are soldiers of the Diestburg kingdom, the orders of a member of the royal family are absolute. You have no right to stop me.”
Another voice echoed. A clearer one.
“What now, head maid.”
The familiar voice belonged to Feli von Yugstine.
“If Your Highness goes to the frontlines, I shall accompany you.”
“I ordered you to stay.”
“His Majesty ordered me to protect Your Highness. As a vassal of Diestburg, I cannot disobey His Majesty’s orders.”
“…is that so.”
She really got me then, I thought to myself. Feli was stubborn, but if convinced she became reasonable. An order from father, however, couldn’t be reversed.
“I can’t guarantee you’ll be back alive.”
I lied. Honestly speaking, I wished to keep the people I want to protect close to me. Despite it, since I lacked trust at the moment, I had to order Feli to stay back with the rest of the troops.
Despite my intentions, things turned as I hoped, so my lips curved upwards a bit. Slightly enough that I barely noticed it.
“If that happens, I’ll blame my poor luck.”
“Do as you please then.”
I then turned my back to the troops and exited from the castle gate, with only Feli in tow. The scenery outside was a wasteland, vividly scarred with the traces of war: the shattered swords strewn everywhere told a clear picture of what happened.
This is the place where the Afillis army was ravaged by the “Hero” if I recall.
“Head maid, stay here.”
I gave Feli the order and walked a few steps forward.
What I used was shadows. I concentrated fully, in order not to drag her in. As I did so, I picked up the voices of the soldiers behind us, wondering what I was going to do.
Is he going to beg for his life?
I bet he’s going to switch sides.
So goes their conversation. I chuckled at the absurdities they spout.
How ridiculous. How many times did my mentor drill it in my head? If you’re going to beg for your life, slash your throat a million times first. There was no way I would ever do something like that.
If I ever switched sides, it would be after keeping my promise with Logsaria Bornest. I couldn’t afford to discard the only human trait I possessed.
In the distance, I could see the countless troops approaching. The stampede would probably reach my position in a few minutes. Good, I made it in time.
“I didn’t want to show this to anyone other than my mentor, but…”
As I spoke, I glanced at some silhouettes that appeared at the edges of my field of view. They were in a hurry, restless, or so they seemed. It was princess Mephia, leading a small rear support platoon, coming to accuse me of doing something absolutely reckless, but the soldiers held her back.
Mephia seems to be shouting something, but I paid her no mind.
“…a promise is a promise. Here goes.”
This time, I didn’t want to lose anyone. I didn’t want to experience solitude anymore. I drew the “Spada” resting at my waist and stabbed it into the ground. I tried to suppress my feelings as much as possible, forcing my mouth into a smile, and recalled a distant, nostalgic memory.
<<***, you’re not meant to be a swordsman. Not if every time you cut, your expression is so sad. In this world, however, not being able to fight means dying a dog’s death the next day. It’s not a problem of being talented or not. So you must laugh. Even if you have to force yourself. Glue a smile on your face. It’s a million times better to be thought crazy than to be thought weak. At least in this world.>>
I chuckled to myself and my lips formed a small smile.
I knew. I really did. My mentor told me that one thousand times already.
<<***, you’re weak, so at least you should act strong.>>
In the previous world, everyone I knew said the same thing: you’re weak. Some of them had abilities more or less on the same level as mine, but even they called me weak. My heart was hopelessly weak. How many times was I told that I picked the wrong world to be born in?
At the very least, you should fake your appearance. Act like you belong to this world. Ever since I was told that, I tried to always smile and laugh, like my mentor did. I never forgot that teaching. Even now.
I smiled, very typical of me, which I never showed in this world. A stupid, mindless laugh. This was already a battlefield, despite the smile glued to my lips. For me, someone truly strong is someone who can always laugh. Someone who always has the leeway, the luxury to laugh.
So I laughed too.
At least in form, just like my mentor, ever since the day I started praying to become strong.
I couldn’t stop laughing. I wouldn’t stop. I don’t laugh at killing people: I laugh at my stupidly honest self, following my mentor’s teachings so faithfully.
There was no hesitation left in me about killing. That’s why I thought that the “Trash Prince” name fits me perfectly.
Time to end this.
<<One slash, one kill. My heart, my body is forever a battlefield.>>
This was the heroic tale of trash who lived by the blade, turned into a beast, and still continued to swing his sword.
I kept smiling, just like my inspiration, my mentor. In the eyes of others, I might look like a fool. I might even look crazy. Even so, I would keep laughing.
I used the words my mentor always said, hoping that the more I did, the more I would become like him.
“‘One slash, one kill. My heart, my body is forever a battlefield.’”
I spoke the words with emphasis.
My “Spada”, stabbed into the ground, rattled and shook, as if eager to swing forth, to cut. Before me, a seemingly endless horde of enemy troops drew near. But they didn’t mean much.
No one would ever stop me and my “Spada”.
“You found the wrong opponent. Lament your fate and die.”
I poured more strength into my sword.
<<Hey, ***. With your bloodline technique you can create a sword out of shadows, right?>>
I heard a nostalgic voice.
Yes, indeed. I could do that.
<<I got a hunch that you might be able to do it with other people’s shadows too…like, make a sword from someone else’s shadow and have it stab right through their heart.>>
<<No way…even if I could, it’d be impossible to hold it together mentally…>>
My voice from back then replied.
The more you use a bloodline technique, the more power you use, so overdoing it means losing consciousness. That was the weakness of bloodline techniques.
<<There you go again, no way this, no way that. That’s why they call you weak, ***. You got to realize it.>>
<<…but yesterday I killed everyone who attacked me. I wasn’t hurt even once.>>
<<Weak, weak, weak. Kill as many ants as you like, that’s got nothing to do with being strong. If you say something like that, you really aren’t worth much. That’s the way a weakling thinks. You see…>>
I smiled while reminiscing, then gave an order to my “Spada”.
<<If you want me to think you’re strong…>>
Kinder than anyone else, stricter than anyone else, crueler than anyone else. Hoping that my feelings might somehow reach my mentor, I smiled.
In my mind, I saw the mountain of corpses I created in the past. I raised my voice, to perform the same feat once more.
<<You should start by killing at least ten thousand soldiers, like it was nothing, maybe? If you do, I’ll admit you’re strong.>>
“…‘Spada – Mountain of Corpses’”
The next instant, the enemy soldiers heading this way stop in their tracks.
Their hearts stabbed and pierced by jet black blades born from their own shadows, they spat and coughed blood. Their armor was pierced, as if it offered no protection.
A sword piercing your heart out of the blue. It was far too unreal a sight. The soldiers collapsed one after the other, unable to grasp what had happened. After most of the enemy soldiers dropped on the ground and the view became clearer, the few survivors stood there, speechless, looking at me.
<<Well, not like I expect you to really pull that off, ***.>>
“Yeah, that’s right. I still can’t get that far.”
“But I’m not saying ‘no way’ anymore. I’ll live on, my own way. Even if I’m not strong. Even so…”
I looked up at the sky and whispered.
“If I can die without regrets, maybe I can finally meet you all again.”